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The Early Middle Ages


The Early Middle Ages World History SOL WHI.9a,b,c – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: The Early Middle Ages

The Early Middle Ages
  • World History
  • SOL WHI.9a,b,c

Essential Questions
  • How and why did the Church grow in importance
    during the Middle Ages?
  • How did a feudal society develop in Europe during
    the Middle Ages?
  • How did the medieval manor function as a social
    and economic system?
  • How did Charlemagne revive the idea of a Roman

Age of Charlemagne
  • After the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476
    c.e. Western Europe entered what is now called
    the Middle Ages. This period was once called the
    Dark Ages because much of the knowledge and
    sophistication of the Roman Empire was lost or
  • During the Middle Ages kingdoms in France,
    Germany, Spain, and England became the leading

Age of Charlemagne
  • The first major kingdom in Europe after the fall
    of Rome was the Kingdom of the Franks located in
    modern day France and extending into Germany.
    This area was called Gaul by the Romans.
  • Charles Martel, a Frankish King, defeated a
    Muslim army at the battle of Tours in 732.

Age of Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne, a grandson of Charles Martel,
    founded an empire in the 800s that controlled
    most of Western Europe.
  • In 800, Pope Leo III, asked Charlemagne for help
    against rebellious nobles in Rome. Charlemagne
    marched south and crushed the rebellion.
  • In gratitude Pope Leo crowned Charlemagne Emperor
    of the Romans. This revived the idea of a united
    Christian community in Europe.

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Age of Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne wanted to make his court at Aachen a
    second Rome. To do so he set out to revive Latin
    learning in his empire.
  • Charlemagne founded a school under the direction
    of a respected scholar, Alcuin.
  • Alcuin created a curriculum based on Latin
    learning that included grammar, rhetoric, logic,
    arithmetic, geometry, music, and astronomy.

Age of Charlemagne
  • Charlemagne was also a supporter of the church
    and he ordered many churches built across his
  • Charlemagne was crowned emperor by the Pope,
    implying a connection between the Catholic Church
    and the emperors of the Roman Empire. At the
    time Byzantium was considered the Eastern Roman
    Empire and they did not look favorably on the

Cathedral built in Aachen by Charlemagne. It is
the oldest church in Northern Europe.
Age of Charlemagne
  • After Charlemagne died in 814, his empire soon
    fell apart. His heirs battled for power for
    nearly 30 years until his grandsons split the
    empire into three parts.

Division of Charlemagnes Empire
The Church in the Middle Ages
  • After the decline of the Roman Empire the major
    unifying force in Western Europe was the Roman
    Catholic Church.
  • During the early Middle Ages the Church sent
    missionaries to convert the peoples of Northern
    Europe to include England and Germany.
    Missionaries also brought the Latin alphabet to
    Germany and the Germanic languages were written
    with it.
  • As secular authority declined church authority

Spread of Christianity to 600 c.e.
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The Church in the Middle Ages
  • The parish priest was usually the only contact
    the average person had with the Church.
  • The priest celebrated mass and administered the
    sacraments, the sacred rites of the Church.
  • Priests preached the gospel of Jesus and the
    teachings of the Church.
  • The village church was also a social center.
    After services, villagers gossiped or danced.
    Some parish priests also ran schools.

The Church in the Middle Ages
  • Villages took pride in their church buildings and
    decorated them with care.
  • Prosperous communities replaced wood churches
    with stone churches.
  • Some churches housed relics, or the remains of
    martyrs or other holy figures.
  • Local people as well as visitors made pilgrimages
    to pray before the relics.
  • To support itself the Church required Christians
    to pay a tithe, or tax equal to a tenth of their

  • During the Middle Ages monasteries appeared in
    Europe. Monasteries are places where monks or
    nuns devote their life to God.
  • Daily life in a monastery was broken into periods
    of study, worship, and work.
  • In a world without hospitals or schools,
    monasteries and convents often provided basic
  • Monasteries and convents amassed large amounts of
    land because when nobles died they would leave
    money and land to them.

  • Monasteries also preserved the cultural
    achievements of the Greeks and Romans because
    monks were literate and they copied the works of
    ancient authors.

Monks made illuminated manuscripts in the Middle
Ages. These books had small detailed pictures,
elaborate borders, and stylized lettering.
Manuscripts are usually religious books such as
the bible or prayer books.
Reconstruction of a medieval monastery.
Feudal Society
  • In the Middle Ages kings and emperors were too
    weak to maintain law and order. In response to
    this basic need for protection, a new system
    evolved, known as feudalism.
  • Feudalism was a loosely organized system of rule
    in which powerful lords divided their
    landholdings among lesser lords. In exchange,
    these lesser lords, or vassals, pledged service
    and loyalty to the greater lord.

Feudal Society
  • Feudal contract - An exchange of a pledge between
    a greater and lesser lord. A lord granted his
    vassal a fief, or estate.
  • Fiefs could range from a few square miles to
    hundreds of acres. Besides the land the fiefs
    included the peasants to work the land as well as
    any towns or buildings on the land.

Rigid Class Structure
  • Everyone had a place in feudal society. Below
    the monarch were powerful lords, such as dukes
    and counts, who held the largest fiefs. Each of
    these lords had vassals, and these vassals had
    their own vassals.
  • Vassals held fiefs from more than one lord so
    feudal relationships grew very complex.

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  • For feudal nobles, fighting was a way of life.
    At the age of seven, a boy slated to become a
    knight was sent away to the castle of his
    fathers lord. There, he learned to ride and
  • When his training was finished he knelt before an
    older knight and was dubbed by the flat side of
    a sword. Then he took his place among the other

The Manor
  • The basic unit of the medieval economy was the
    manor, or lords estate.
  • Most manors included one or more villages and the
    surrounding lands.
  • Peasants, who made up the majority of the
    population lived and worked on the manor.
  • Most peasants on manors were serfs, bound to the
    land. They were not slaves who could be bought
    and sold but they were not free. They could not
    leave the manor without the lords permission.

The Manor
  • Peasants and their lords were tied together by
    mutual obligations.
  • Peasants had to work several days a week farming
    the lords lands. They also repaired his roads,
    bridges, and fences.
  • Peasants paid the lord a fee when they married,
    when they inherited their fathers acres, or when
    they used the local mill to grind grain.

The Manor
  • The manor was generally self sufficient because
    peasants produced everything they needed from
    food and clothing to furniture and tools.
  • Most peasants never ventured more than a few
    miles from their villages.
  • Life for peasants was harsh. They worked long
    hours and ate simple meals.

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